Mental health, suicide and their factors are, fortunately, becoming more and more prevalent of an open topic in the music industry due to artists like Logic, the late and great Chester Bennington, Kanye West, Kid Cudi and, more recently, Joe Budden.
In a new interview with hosts Brandon Hall and Erin Ashley Simon of Grass Routes Podcast, the New Jersey emcee got candid about one of those factors — opportunity — that he says presented itself during one of his darkest moments on top of New York City’s George Washington Bridge in 2014.
Despite Joey being unhappy with the many directions the new age of hip-hop is taking, one thing he’s grateful for is the candor that some artists take on when addressing suicide.
“N****s are killing themselves to stay alive with all of these pills,” he began. “And molly, lean and whatever s**t they’re mixing. We have seen enough death that you’d think something would click. We need people like me, Charles Hamilton and Logic to advocate [for awareness].”
Joey spoke to the importance of self-care in the dog-eat-dog music industry as well, which he believes can fall to the back burner if artists allow it to. It’s also one of the many reasons he hates record labels, which Joe believes are notorious for neglecting the well-being of rap artists. He’s living proof of that notion, too, expressing in both the interview and his Shady XV cypher of 2014 that his suicidal status while freestyling atop the bridge was the least of the industry folks’ worries.
“I was in a very dark place and somehow the genius music people and production staff thought it would be a great idea to film this f**king freestyle on the George Washington Bridge,” he recalled. “[If] I would’ve jumped, then everybody would’ve been shocked and said, ‘We didn’t see this coming.’ How? I have been telling you this s**t for a f**king month.”
Such passionate sentiments were iterated in the freestyle itself, as Joey ended the bars with a testament to his mental state at the time.
“These last couple of days I’ve been speaking to my peers, giving them cries for help,” he spit. “I guess they need to see the tears/But wait, wildest part of all of that is they’ll shoot a suicidal rapper right here on the bridge.”
Though Joey shared that his heaviest suicidal period was between 1995 and 2004, the years in which he had attempted suicide more than once, the cypher could have resulted in a tragic relapse. In 2017, with a new baby on the way and a recovering outlook on life, those dark periods have thankfully decreased by drastic degrees.
“I maybe have three bad days a year,” he said. “Days when I wake up and I have to talk myself off that ledge.”
Even still, we’re happy to see brighter days for Uncle Joe.
Check out all he had to say about the industry, mental health, suicide awareness and fatherhood in the video below.
(Photo: Johnny Nunez/WireImage)